Risky Riders

You must have read about how drivers in Andhra Pradesh’s public transport have transformed because their dashboards carry photographs of their wives and children.

“Every driver leaves home promising his family that he’d return home safe. A soft reminder of his family motivates him to be alert. This has gone down well with the drivers.”

I am not too gung-ho about it. One is aware that this bit of news has been highlighted because the Delhi gang-rape took place in a bus and it has been mentioned in the reports, although there is no connection at all.

My point is that not all drivers would be married. Besides, many dashboards have some talisman or icon of deities. Since religion is a huge factor in the lives of many, why does the fear of god not make these people careful? Why do they imbibe alcohol? Rash driving is simply a case of bad drivers – licences are bought by rookies after paying the RTO officers. Then there are bad roads, poor lighting, lack of proper road signs, no concept of road etiquette, both by drivers and pedestrians.

And why blame only public transport. What about private vehicles? Check the number of accidents caused by fancy wheels, and with prominent people behind them.

There is a fine for using mobile phones while driving as it diverts attention. Will not looking lovingly at the photograph on the dashboard have the same effect? If we wish to take a psychological look, then rash driving may have something to do with a sense of insecurity that suddenly finds a tantalising stretch that can be conquered by wearing blinkers, so to speak. There is no one in the line of vision except the road ahead. The cocky look in the rear-view mirror is only to make sure that no one overtakes one’s own road. This is a spatial phenomenon, where ‘I own this territory because it is under my feet’ prevails.

I am merely giving a flipside argument, because we really need to get our act together rather than resort to filmi prototypes.


  1. This kind of plan can only hatched by some one who watches too many telugu movies. In telugu movies the hero has superpowers without any spider biting him or coming from some other planet. This super powered hero will do anything for his family especially the mother and the sister, always gets the hot girl whose life will now revolve around him and his family no matter what. He also miraculously gets his extended family members who were fighting/quarrelling together again and some outsider who caused a rift among them will be the villain and him and hundreds of his people will be bashed up the hero.

    This is the mental model of the world for most young and middle aged Andhra men. It now becomes easy to understand why the authorities thought photos of family members will make the drivers more careful. The hero will do anything to see his mother, sister, wife. The bad guys who are the other drivers, pedestrians who don't know that the road is owned by the hero and his people in the bus still need to be taught a lesson but they will be a little more careful because of the mother/wife sentiment. By the way pictures of deities are there not to induce fear but to protect the hero. The hero is always right and the deities will always protect the hero, no matter what stunt the hero will try to pull.

  2. Sai:

    What a wonderful look at the Andhra male mentality through cinema! I get all your points, but are we assuming that every driver is a hero?

    Villains too drive vehicles and display photographs and other symbols, especially religious ones.

    Why are rash driving and murderous intent not stalled when the same 'inspirations' are available to both?

    Just random queries. Interesting comment. Thanks.


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